There are a tremendous amount of cottage gear companies that exist to help the backpacking world get high quality gear that is made by smaller more personable companies allowing customization and more.


Alum Equipment

Their Story: Andrew Cameron began making ultralight backpacks in Logan, Utah, in 2018.

Best Known For: Ultralight, custom backpacks.
Visit Alum Equipment

Appalachian Gear Company

Their Story: John Gage and Mike Hawkins worked for different Fortune 500 textile manufacturing companies before starting Appalachian Gear Company in Charlotte, North Carolina, and developing All-Paca–a lightweight, 100 percent alpaca fabric with no harsh chemical processing and no synthetic fibers blended in. The yarn is imported from Peru and products are made in Charlotte.

Best Known For: The All-Paca Fleece Hoodie.
Visit Appalachian Gear Company

Arrowhead Equipment

Their Story: Hammocks, tarps, and quilts made in Southern Idaho from US-sourced fabric and insulation for more than 10 years.

Best Known For: Synthetic insulation quilts.
Visit Arrowhead Equipment



Their Story: Jamie Hogan started BearVault, based in San Diego, California, in the early 2000s, seeking a lighter, easier-to-use bear canister.

Best Known For: Bear can cap that twists on and off with a childproof-type latch.
Visit BearVault

Black Rock Gear

Their Story: Small company making down hats in Seattle, Washington.

Best Known For: Original Black Rock hat.
Visit Black Rock Gear


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Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear

Their Story: Austin Gongos and Nathan Ackerman hiked the Pacific Crest trail with packs they made, and eventually founded Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear in Michigan.

Best Known For: Ultralight, custom-made backpacks and accessories.
Visit Chicken Tramper


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Darn Tough

Their Story: Cabot Hosiery Mill, run by father-son team Marc and Ric Cabot, has been making socks in Northfield, Vermont, since the late 1970s. When business lagged in the early 2000s the company began making Darn Tough socks, and a legend was born.

Best Known For: Unconditional lifetime guarantee on socks.
Visit Darn Tough

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Their Story: Ultramarathoner Xy Weiss started by making leopard print gaiters to match her leopard print jog bra, and since 2004 Dirty Girl Gaiters have been made in America by “goddesses from their Empire of Dirt in Tucson, Arizona.”

Best Known For: Creative, wild designs on lightweight gaiters.
Visit Dirty Girl Gaiters

Dream Hammock

Their Story: Hammocks made by a family-run company in Fredericksburg, Ohio.

Best Known For: Sparrow hammock.
Visit Dream Hammock


Enlightened Equipment

Their Story: Tim Marshall began sewing quilts in his basement in 2007, and since then has revolutionized backpacking sleep systems. His lightweight, warm quilts are a favorite for thru-hikers on the country’s long-distance trails. EE now has more than 50 workers creating quilts, clothing, and backpacking accessories in a 50,000-square-foot building in Winona, Minnesota.

Best Known For: The Revelation quilt. Warm and lightweight.
Visit Enlightened Equipment

Elemental Horizons

Their Story: Matthew Lagas-Rivera designed and made his first piece of gear in 1998, and went on to start Elemental Horizons. Based in Southport, North Carolina.

Best Known For: Aquilo lightweight backpacks.
Visit Elemental Horizons


Their Story: Designing and sewing outdoor gear in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for more than 20 years.

Best Known For: Commitment to manufacturing with a low carbon footprint.
Visit Equinox


Feathered Friends

Their Story: Founders Peter and Carol Hickner moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1972 and started making the outdoor gear they wanted to use but couldn’t find or afford. All gear made in Seattle, Washington.

Best Known For: The Eos series down jackets.
Visit Feathered Friends

Fernweh Food Co

Their Story: Ashley Lance began making her own food in 2015 for bike tours and backpacking trips, and eventually started Fernweh Food Co. in the Pacific Northwest.

Best Known For: Seasonal, local ingredients in meals, or order in bulk to create your own meals.
Visit Fernweh Food Co

Fox River

Their Story: Fox River has been making socks since 1900, currently in Osage, Iowa.

Best Known For: Hiking socks of various thicknesses and materials.
Visit Fox River



Their Story: Greenbelly founder Chris Cage traveled the world and hiked the AT, all the while thinking about how difficult it was to find nutritious food. Thus was born Greenbelly, maker of nutritious food for wherever your travels take you.

Best Known For: Meal2Go bars.
Visit Greenbelly

Good To-Go

Their Story: Founded by nationally recognized chef Jennifer Scism, who began making her own dehydrated meals for backcountry trips. She and her husband, Good To-Go co-founder David Koorits, now produce a wide range of dehydrated meals in Maine.

Best Known For: An entirely gluten-free product line that is low in sodium, with no preservatives. Vegan and vegetarian options are available.
Visit Good To-Go

GooseFeet Gear

Their Story: Ben Smith started making down socks in 2010, and since then GooseFeet Gear has expanded into making down booties, outwear, and quilts. All the gear is made in the United States. Based in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Best Known For: High-quality, ultralight down clothing and accessories.
Visit GooseFeet Gear

Groundbird Gear

Their Story: Marie “Bobwhite: Sellenrick began making gear for her dog in 2014 after her Appalachian Trail thru-hike, and with her husband, Jeff, now works out of a makerspace in Baltimore.

Best Known For: Custom-made trail gear for dogs.
Visit Groundbird Gear


Hammock Gear

Their Story: Making ultralight hammocks and other backpacking gear in a manufacturing facility outside Columbus, Ohio, since 2009.

Best Known For: Ultralight hammocks, Burrow Quilts
Visit Hammock Gear

Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Their Story: Like so many others, Mike St. Pierre wanted lightweight, durable gear for the trail, and began making his own packs and shelters. Today St. Pierre, joined by brother Dan, makes ultralight gear in a renovated mill in Biddeford, Maine.

Best Known For: Packs like the Southwest, Windrider, and Junction, made from Dyneema Composite Fabric.
Visit Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Hilltop Packs

Their Story: Hilltop Packs is a family-owned business that makes custom-order packs in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

Best Known For: Ultralight, fully customizable Raven backpack.
Visit Hilltop Packs

Hummingbird Hammocks

Their Story: Chris Loidolt designed his first hammock about five years ago, and now the family-run business makes a line of lightweight hammocks in Alamo, Tennessee.

Best Known For: Lightweight hammocks sold directly to customers.
Visit Hummingbird Hammocks

Heather’s Choice

Their Story: After years of making food for her own adventures, Heather started Heather’s Choice in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2014.

Best Known For: Healthy meals and snacks for adventurers.
Visit Heather’s Choice


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Jacks ‘R’ Better

Their Story: Jack Tier and Jack Myers, retired Army officers with a combined 50 years of military service, began hiking together in 2002. After they started making some of their own gear they formed Jacks ‘R’ Better, with headquarters in Hulmeville, Pennsylvania, in 2004.

Best Known For: The Nest underquilt designed to fit Hennessy hammocks
Visit Jacks ‘R’ Better

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Katabatic Gear

Their Story: Aaron Martray started Katabatic Gear to create ultralight down sleeping bags, and has since begun making quilts at its factory in Lakewood, Colorado.

Best Known For: Ultralight quilts.
Visit Katabatic Gear

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Their Story: Chris and Lorraine Millard began making ultralight DCF gear in their garage in New Jersey, and when demand grew they moved into a warehouse.

Best Known For: Custom-color DCF Curve backpack.

Visit LiteAF

LightHeart Gear

Their Story: Lightweight gear made in North Carolina, owned by Judy Gross, aka HeartFire.

Best Known For: Trekking pole tents and lightweight clothing.
Visit LightHeart Gear

Loco Libre Gear

Their Story: George “PoBoy” Carr started sewing quilts, tarps, and hammocks for himself and friends before starting Loco Libre Gear, with headquarters in Lindenwold, New Jersey, in 2015.

Best Known For: Top quilts, underquilts, and ground quilts.
Visit Loco Libre Gear


Mountain Laurel Designs

Their Story: Ron Bell started Mountain Laurel Designs in 2002, first making silnylon tarps and then expanding into trekking pole tents and backpacks, all made in Roanoke, Virginia.

Best Known For: The Prophet custom-made ultralight backpack.
Visit Mountain Laurel Designs


Their Story: Childhood buddies Fritz Howard and Kevco began making outdoor gear in Leadville, Colorado, in 1994. Melanzana (Italian for eggplant) has grown since then to occupy a large retail space in Leadville—the only place that sells Melanzana clothing—making the mining town high in the Colorado Rockies a mecca for fans of the company’s clothing. All the fabric is made in the US, and the clothes are sewn in Leadville.

Best Known For: The Melly (Micro Grid Hoodie). A cult favorite of many hikers.
Visit Melanzana

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Nunatak Gear

Their Story: Started in 1999. The main facility is in Moab, Utah, with some items sewn in Seattle, Washington.

Best Known For: Ultralight quilts and lightweight down jackets.
Visit Nunatak Gear

Next Mile Meals

Their Story: Family-run company that makes meals by hand and in small batches in Sonoma, California, with all ingredients sourced from US companies. Headquarters in San Francisco, California.

Best Known For: All meals are gluten-free.
Visit Next Mile Meals

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Outdoor Herbivore

Their Story: Kim Safdy started Outdoor Herbivore, located in Sacramento, California, in 2010, to produce one-pot dried meals using organic, whole food ingredients.

Best Known For: Vegetarian and vegan meals.
Visit Outdoor Herbivore

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Packit Gourmet

Their Story: A family-run business based in Austin, Texas.

Best Known For: Meals with roots in the South.
Visit Packit Gourmet


Their Story: Packs and clothing designed in Salt Lake City, Utah, and manufactured by contract sewers in Salt Lake and Phoenix, Arizona.

Best Known For: Lightweight and ultralight backpacks.
Visit Pa’Lante


Their Story: Tony Kramer has been designing and making hammocks in Woodstock, Georgia, for 15 years.

Best Known For: Lie-flat hammock design.
Visit Pak-It-Lite

Peak Refuel

Their Story: After years of working in the freeze-drying industry, Seth Adams started Peak Refuel in Utah in 2018.

Best Known For: High-protein meals using real meat, with no fillers.
Visit Peak Refuel

Purple Rain Adventure Skirts

Their Story: Mandy “Purple Rain” Bland has been making hiking skirts in her Oregon home since 2014, after making the first one for her Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike.

Best Known For: Hiking kilts and skirts that give you a breath of fresh air.
Visit Purple Rain Adventure Skirts

Peter Limmer and Sons

Their Story: A family-run business that has been making hiking boots in New Hampshire for half a century.

Best Known For: Custom-made leather boots.
Visit Peter Limmer and Sons


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Red Paw Packs

Their Story: Matt Evans makes lightweight backpacks and fanny packs in Boulder, Colorado.

Best Known For: The Corner fanny pack.
Visit Red Paw Packs


Superior Wilderness Designs

Their Story: Founded by Brandon McIntyre and Ashley Thick, SWD makes custom backpacks in Michigan.

Best Known For: Superior frameless backpacks.
Visit Superior Wilderness Designs

Simply Light Designs

Their Story: Jared M. Baker designs and makes hammocks and quilts in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Best Known For: Custom hammocks and tarps.
Visit Simply Light Designs



Their Story: Mike Cecot-Scherer designed tents for several companies before starting TheTentLab, run out of his home in Louisville, Colorado. The company’s The Deuce cathole trowel is made in Colorado, although its MoonLight tents are made in China.

Best Known For: The Deuce.
Visit TheTentLab


UGQ Outdoor

Their Story: Small shop making custom quilts and tarps in Jackson, Michigan, since 2011.

Best Known For: The Bandit backpacking quilt.
Visit UGQ Outdoor

ULA Equipment

Their Story: Brian Frankle recognized a need for durable, lightweight equipment after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and started Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA) in 2001. The company’s backpacks are made in Logan, Utah.

Best Known For: ULA Circuit.
Visit ULA Equipment

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Waymark Gear Company

Their Story: Mark Benson started Waymark while searching for ultralight gear that suited his needs. All gear made in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Best Known For: The THRU, a minimal, frameless pack made for ultralight hikers.
Visit Waymark Gear Company

Warbonnet Outdoors

Their Story: Begun in 2008 by Brandon Waddy, Warbonnet makes hammocks, hammock tarps, and hammock quilts in Colorado.

Best Known For: Blackbird hammock.
Visit Warbonnet Outdoors

Wild Ideas

Their Story: Three aerospace engineers started Wild Ideas in 1998 to make lightweight bear canisters.

Best Known For: The Bearikade canister.
Visit Wild Ideas

Wild Zora

Their Story: Zora and Josh Tabin started Wild Zora in 2014 in Loveland, Colorado, at first focusing on snack bars, then expanding to meals in January 2018 with the purchase of Paleo Meals To Go.

Best Known For: Real food, real spices, with no preservatives or additives.
Visit Wild Zora


Xero Shoes

Their Story: Steven is the visionary and marketer for Xero Shoes. He is a Masters All-American sprinter (one of the fastest men over the age of 50 in the US) and former All-American gymnast.

Best Known For: Ultralight Sandals and Shoes
Visit Xero Shoes


Yama Mountain Gear

Their Story: Gen Shimizu started Yama (formerly known as Alpenlite) in 2006, designing and building gear outside Missoula, Montana.

Best Known For: Ultralight tarps.
Visit Yama Mountain Gear



Their Story: When Joe Valesko hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2004 he couldn’t find lightweight gear that he liked, so he made his own and tested it on the trail. Zpacks was born in 2005, and all its gear is sewn in in West Melbourne, Florida.

Best Known For: Duplex tent
Visit Zpacks
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